Saxon- The Inner Sanctum

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, May 10, 2007

When one typically thinks of older heavy metal groups, the names Judas Priest and Iron Maiden usually are what one thinks of first. But one underrated band would have to be Saxon, another band to form out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Now, thirty one years after Saxon originally formed, the band is back with their latest album, The Inner Sanctum. While other heavy metal bands get most of the attention, The Inner Sanctum should ensure that Saxon still gets their due. With 10 tracks of in your face metal that will remind listeners of older releases rather than newer ones, metal fans of almost any age should be able to appreciate and enjoy this album.

The Inner Sanctum sees Saxon pulling from many of the different styles that they have played over the years. You have power metal tracks, ballads, and even some anthem worthy songs. It is clear that for this release, the band took a look at what they were back in the early 80’s and combined it with some of their current playing styles. The result is an album that has great solos, and despite being more in tune with older heavy metal than the new stuff currently on the market, still has a modern touch to it. The closing track “Attila the Hun” is an excellent way to end the album, as it is an epic 8 minute track that alternates between slow and fast segments. The instrumentalists of Saxon still have a great deal of energy in their playing, and it results in a strong album.

Even after all of these years, vocalist Peter “Biff” Byford’s still got it. His vocals are very much in the style of 80’s heavy metal such as Iron Maiden, but without the added cheesiness often found with bands such as Manowar and Hammerfall. Byford often alternates between clean singing and higher pitched vocals, which works very well. In addition to this, he is an excellent songwriter. With themes such as the fall of communism in Russia and the power of unity, the songs on this album have more staying power than your average metal release.

There aren’t many heavy metal bands out there who have managed to survive quite as long as Saxon has. But despite this (and their obvious weaker points), The Inner Sanctum shows that the band is still at their top of their game. By combining the core elements of their heavy metal roots with a hint of modern flair and even some AC/DC style riffs at certain points, this is a surprise album of the year. Saxon deserves to achieve the notoriety that other groups in their genre have, and if they continue with albums such as this one they will likely continue to go strong for many more years to come.

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